Monday, July 20, 2009

Wild Goodness

Good things can sometimes happen when you don't mow the lawn.

Well, that is, if you live in a rural township where you won't get fined for letting the grass get a little long. I knew there were wild grapes, raspberries and gooseberries growing abundantly in the woods surrounding our house, and I noticed this tiny grapevine growing in the ditch on the edge of our yard.

So I told the boys and my husband not to mow the ditch. The boys certainly didn't mind, and my husband could have cared less - well, if there was a good reason for it, anyway. It's not like he wants the yard to look like a wild overgrown mess, but he realizes that I can identify edible things in the woods, so he trusts my judgement when it comes to wild foods.

This tiny, weed-like plant to the right is a raspberry cane, sprouting from the earth near the road.

I've discovered about 10 wild grape vines and an uncountable amount of thorny little raspberry shoots. Not all thorny plants in the woods of Minnesota are raspberries, though.
The American gooseberry is also very prickly. Each adult berry bush can yield 6 to 8 gallons of berries, which are great for jam and wine. This berry on the left isn't ripe, yet. When ripe, the berries are a stunningly beautiful shade of deep, wine red.
As with any wild berries or fruits, you must be certain that you've identified the plant correctly. Some plants are poisonous, and may look similar to other plants that are edible.
Like mushrooms, for instance. NEVER, ever pick wild mushrooms. Unless you have been trained to properly identify which ones are edible, it is far too easy to make a fatal mistake. If you eat a poisonous mushroom, you may be lucky enough to get to an emergency room; however, you might not. I'd rather not take that chance, mushrooms are much better from the grocery store, anyway :)


  1. What I really love are wild blackberries we used to have them in my old house right out the back door nothing better the fresh berries in the morning.mmmmm

  2. Good advice on the mushrooms. My Mom used to make a gooseberry jam and I am a raspberry nut.


  3. Sandi, really good information. I used to teach folks how to forage in the wild and berries were the main staple.
    I'm like Myra, my favorite is wild blackberries.

  4. Before we moved to a civilized area, we used to have blackberries growing all over. Now all I have is grass....well, that is kind of a lie...I have a lot of weeds in my grass. I will not spend the money to make my grass look nice....I know, I'm cheap.

  5. Who needs grass? Plant lots of berries, and the grass won't even be noticed :)

  6. Finding yummy wild things in your own backyard is wonderful! I have wild grapes and blackberries growing over my backyard fence.


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